Monday, May 28, 2012

Show me yours?

I own close to 2000 compact discs. My collection is worth about, let’s see, carry the four, divide by 7…nothing.  It’s a diary of my life.  From Triumph’s Sport of Kings which was my virgin CD purchase up to the Threefold Law & Chris E. collaboration (Smoke) we just released, those plastic circles represent milestones in my life.  But on the open market, the 2000+ recordings sitting in my attic are completely worthless.  With the exception of a rare import or a signed Justin Bieber disc, I’ll bet your collection is also potential landfill.

It all started about 100 years ago.  Prior to the 20th century, for thousands of generations, humans enjoyed music much the same way we do today.  It was spiritual, therapeutic, emotional, or just plain fun.  A pioneer of audio recording, Alan Lomax, was one of the first to record musicians, capturing their music on vinyl.  For the first time in human history people could enjoy music without being present in the time and space in which it was performed.  In the 1940s and 1950s, good ole American capitalism took over and corporations figured out that post-war American teenagers (and their parents) had disposable income and they couldn’t get enough of that Rock and Roll.  Fast-forward a few more decades and you have the golden era of music consumption heralded by major record labels and a worldwide audience hungry enough to drive platinum (one million records) and multi-platinum sales.

This is when we were duped into believing that MUSIC and the MEDIUM are the same thing.  Vinyl, magnetic tape, shiny plastic discs, and binary code are NOT music.  They are, and have been, the medium by which artists share their music.  Gatefolds, album artwork, liner notes; these are all as interesting as the back of a cereal box unless they are associated with the music.

Before the vinyl lovers crucify me, let me state that there will always be folks that love the act of collecting.  They are no different than CD aficionados (like me) or digital hoarders with bloated iTunes libraries.  This argument is irrelevant and I wish we’d put it to rest.  Our newest technologies have changed this forever.  Mog is a company that gives you unlimited listening to over 15 million songs on any device you own for $9.99 month.  You don’t own the music (although “owning” music is like “owning” a suntan).  You pay to listen to as much as you want, and in fact, more than you can play in a lifetime.  It’s a subscription service like Netflix.  The medium is forever irrelevant, ceasing to exist altogether.

“Wait!  You’re a musician!  You’re trying to sell Threefold Law records.  You should be outraged.”  Mog is not selling files or providing illegal downloads.  Artists receive a royalty every time a song of theirs is played.  Not much, but with a potential global audience.  Again, it doesn’t matter what you or I think.  Every sales statistic in every entertainment market reporting nose-diving sales for products reliant on the physical medium.  CDs, books, and DVD sales are all in the toilet while iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix show exponential growth from the sectors of their business that has abandoned the medium. 

For the first time since the invention of Edison’s phonograph we can see again the distinction between music and medium.  If you care more for the medium, then the future of music looks dire for you.  You and your hipster buds can dress in skinny jeans and flannel shirts, visiting the last remaining vinyl shops to discuss why that latest Arcade Fire album sounds so much better on your grandpa’s shitty turntable.  You and your pudgy 80’s metalhead friends from high school can continue ordering import CDs from Europe to impress each other in the 7 Eleven parking lot.  You and your vapid, shallow, classmates can one-up each other with the number of songs you have on your iPhone.  It’s irrelevant because that’s medium not music.

The future of music creation and distribution belongs to companies like Mog, whether you like it or not.  I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but I know I can’t fight it any more than I can control how I get to work each morning. I bitch and moan about gas prices and then drag my ass to the pump.

Anyone wanna buy some used CDs?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hit Me!

Nipple black-out; keepin' it clean.
In March of 2000, I traveled with several friends and one brother to the best party city in the world; New Orleans, Louisiana.  The seafood is spectacular, the vampires are sexy, the drinks are flowing, the music is swinging, the boobs are…uh, swinging, and it’s also where I got my first big taste of gambling glory.

My brother and I sat at the $5 blackjack table usually reserved for the high rollers in wheelchairs accessorized with oxygen tanks.  We enjoyed many free drinks offered by those lovely ladies parading around with trays of watered-down booze.  Fast forward 12 hours, and we found ourselves in pretty good shape.  We stumbled from the table to the changer sometime between two and three in the morning and cashed out several hundred dollars each.  Growing up in the Rust Belt and this being the year 2000, the winnings felt more like several hundred thousand dollars.

Nice pair of beignets you got there, honey.
Walking down Canal Street in a booze-fueled haze at three in the morning is a trip as long as nobody cracks you over the head for the money.  Before leaving the casino, we went into a bathroom stall and slid the money inside of our shoe in the quiet, stealthy manner of the seriously inebriated.  We managed to stumble back to the hotel amidst beads and boobs and woke up the next morning to a plate of beignets and a chicory coffee.  Good times.


Baby needs a new pair of SHOES.
Why the nostalgia?  The Horseshoe Casino opened this week in Cleveland, Ohio, the first in the state.  I’m thinking I need to get down there and try my luck at the blackjack table although judging from the people that stood in line for the casino’s grand opening, I may leave the Mardi Gras beads at home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dickens (nice name)

Killer beard, I'll give him that.
This past week I became embroiled in a deadly chart-ranking feud with one, Charles Dickens.  Allow me to introduce the combatants.  I had The Arrival (Burden of Conquest Book I) on the Kindle Best Seller Top 100 Free list during the recent IBC promotion.  Other works of mine including Preta’s Realm and The Seventh Seal have been consistently ranking in the Top 100 Kindle Best Seller Paid genre lists.  My thumb is double-jointed and I once took third place in a 4th grade 50 yard dash competition against two of my classmates.  Dickens wrote a long time ago and then died.

All week it was neck and neck.  The Arrival would leap ahead, and then Dickens’ story about cities would nudge up.  Then his crusty tome would slip and mine would surge.  Back and forth, front to back, side to side.  My book held its own against his but could not take the day.  But before I get to that, let me share with you what some Amazon reviewers said about Chucky’s book:
“This has to be one of the worst books we've ever read.”

“If you hated Old Man and the Sea, you too will hate this.”

“A boring, wordy book with an unexciting, weak, predictable plot.”

“Some of the key characters were not sufficiently developed, so the ending lost some of its impact. B-O-R-I-N-G.”
Need I say more?

Down to the wire...
But alas, Chucky D’s old, crusty, book (written in 1859 so you KNOW it sucks) dripping with 36 one-star reviews, edged out The Arrival towards the end of the promo run.  I need to be dignified and gracious about this, so here it goes:

I am suspending my bid for the ranking above Dickens…at least until the next promotion.  Don’t even get me started on Carroll.
4-star average? Whatever.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Free ebooks May 7th-9th

Starting today and lasting through midnight on May 9th, you can get dozens of free ebooks for your Kindle. No catch, no strings. As part of the Indie Book Collective’s Spring Fling FreePar-Tay promotion, over 25 authors (including myself) are giving away copies of select books, for a limited time. Get my novel, The Arrival (Burden of Conquest Book I) for free.

The Arrival is the first book (of two) that chronicles the fate of a warrior and his duty to defend a world from the invaders. Fantasy of epic proportions based loosely on the story of the clash between the Aztecs and the Spanish Conquistadors in the 17th century.